Certainly, they weren't always the best of times, and his arrival caused an ugly clubhouse upheaval, but it's a season that Dodger replacement player Mike Busch will cherish.
Busch hit a game-winning, three-run homer in the seventh inning Sunday that provided the Dodgers with a 4-1 victory over the San Diego Padres in their season finale. The victory assured the Dodgers (78-66) of finishing in sole possession of first place in the National League West.
"I thought that was great," Dodger Manager Tom Lasorda said. "I didn't want them [the Colorado Rockies] to go around saying they were co-champions."
The homer was a nice send-off for Busch, who was officially informed Sunday that he won't be on the postseason roster. Busch has no idea whether he'll be invited back to the Dodgers next season, but he vows to fondly remember his five weeks in the major leagues.
"I just feel very fortunate that I got the opportunity to play," said Busch, who will watch the first two games of the playoffs then will play winter ball in Mexico. "I think there will always be a little animosity for what I did, but no matter what, Mike Busch was in the major leagues playing baseball."
Red Manager Davey Johnson juggled his rotation for the playoff series against the Dodgers and decided that David Wells instead of Mark Portugal will start in Game 3 against Hideo Nomo.
"If we throw the three left-handers," Johnson said, "we'll have it all set up for Atlanta."
The pitching matchups for the first three games of the series: the Dodgers' Ramon Martinez (17-7) vs. the Reds' Pete Schourek (18-8) at 5 p.m. Tuesday; Ismael Valdes (13-11) vs. John Smiley (12-5) at 5 p.m. Wednesday; and Nomo (13-6) vs. Wells (6-5) at 5 p.m. Friday in Cincinnati.
Tom Candiotti (7-14) and Mark Portugal (11-10) are the probable starters in Game 4, but Lasorda and Johnson are expected to wait until Thursday or Friday before making a decision.
The Dodgers finalized their playoff roster and, as expected, retained outfielder Billy Ashley on the team instead of outfielder Karim Garcia or Busch. The Dodgers will carry three extra players--outfielder Roger Cedeno, infielder Juan Castro and catcher Tom Prince, who'll be eligible in case of an injury. . . . Padre right fielder Tony Gwynn went one for three Sunday, finishing the season with a .368 batting average for his sixth NL batting title. Dodger catcher Mike Piazza was runner-up with a .346 batting average, the highest ever by a Dodger catcher. . . . Dodger starter Chan Ho Park yielded one hit in three innings, striking out five consecutive batters in one stretch.